Extend productivity schemes to social service sector

Since 2010, the Government has introduced several schemes and grants to help businesses build and enhance their capabilities and increase productivity and innovation activities. These include the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC), PIC Bonus, PIC+, and the Innovation and Capability Voucher.

However, non-profit organisations (NPO), volunteer welfare organisations (VWO), charities and communities are not eligible to apply for any of these schemes. In fact, it seems that there are currently no schemes to support this special group of entities.

NPOs, VWOs and charities are integral parts of the social service sector, which plays a critical role in harmonising our community's heartbeat.

In order to continuously provide better services to meet the needs of the community, and to remain relevant, these organisations must constantly develop better capabilities and improve on productivity and innovation too.

These entities exist primarily to fulfil a specific mission and purpose. Often, they do not enjoy excessive surpluses, as their priority is not to achieve a fat bottom line.

Revenues and donations received cover the overheads and other costs of operations. Any surplus added to accumulated reserves is a bonus and acts as a buffer for dry seasons.

Can the authorities look into providing better support for developing capabilities in these organisations?

Many of them are clearly lagging far behind and do not have the financial muscle to execute the improvements required.

It is time for the Government to review and perhaps extend financial schemes to the social sector.

Joshua Tan Wei Siang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2015, with the headline 'Extend productivity schemes to social service sector'. Print Edition | Subscribe